The Sum Of A Life Well Lived

Kathleen Siddell Stay at Home Parent

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Math never quite made sense to me. The more I thought about why I was “carrying numbers” and “long dividing,” the less it made sense to me. Except for geometry. With its curves and angles and shapes, it was easier for me to see how parts became whole; how rectangles turned into squares and squares became triangles. Empty spaces begin to take shape.

And yet, I count the hours I’m away and hope they add up to assurance and fulfillment.

I add up the numbers of times I had to say Stop. Don't. No. and hope the sum is less than the number of times we laughed.

There is a pile of little boy legs on me as we cuddle together on the couch. I count 4 legs and zero scraped knees and feel the weight of our luck.

We talk about what kind of cake they'll have for their birthdays then count the number of days until then. I hope the memories don't get blown out with the candles.

I add the soap to the water and hope the warm, soapy bath doesn't wash away the scent of them.

I hear their silly giggles and hope they multiply.

We measure the ingredients to make cookies and mix, pour and bake. I subtract culinary grace and finesse from the process and hope it still equals home.

We divide toys, sometimes unequally, and I hope they learn generosity.

We count our blessings and add up the time we have with those we love. We hope our memories are an accurate measure of reality. We add, subtract, multiply and divide and hope the sum is a life well lived.

But counting the days to your next birthday doesn't make them pass any faster than reminiscing about yesterday makes them pass any slower. We can't add, measure and hope our way to gratitude. There is no recipe, formula or scorecard.

This realization is both frightening and comforting.

Life isn't a taste test, science experiment or a World Series. The best things in life aren't counted, added or measured. You can't measure the warmth of a birthday candle. You can't subtract the scraped knees from a perfect day. Adding more giggles doesn't equal less tears.

Hope will always dangle in front of us.

I'm starting to learn our lives are not the sum of different parts. They are hundreds of todays strung together.

Trying to mathematically catalogue my days in an effort to remember won’t bring back the smell of my babies’ heads, the feel of their baby fingers around mine or the sound of their babbling.

When I can’t quite remember how my oldest used to mispronounce spatula, when I forget what my youngest looked like without a mop of curls, when hope robs me of what is, I don’t see empty spaces and incorrect sums. I see today and remember my geometry.

Tomorrows turn into todays and todays turn into yesterdays. Memories exist fluidly, taking on different shapes. A life well lived is painted on a canvas of todays.


About the Author

Kathleen Siddell

Kathleen recently moved with her family from Shanghai, China, to Singapore. While she resists the term "mommy blogger," she reluctantly admits that she is a mother with a blog. You can read about her family's sometimes ordinary/sometimes extraordinary adventures living abroad at .

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